The wake of the recent discoveries of hundreds of unmarked graves on the sites of the former Kamloops and Marieval Residential Schools have been a wake-up call for our nation, serving as an opportunity for many to realize the true extent of some of the horrors of our shockingly not-so-distant past.
Furthermore, it should be startling for all to learn that this discovery is simply confirmation of what many have known for decades.
The fact that these stories and testimonies have gone widely unheard after all this time shines a spotlight on our own shortcomings as a society.
As such, I encourage Richmondites to continue to pressure our governments to release records and continue ground-penetrating radar searches, because the first step to reconciliation is truth.
Understandably, these discoveries and the subsequent national mourning has prompted many calls to cancel this year’s Canada Day festivities, out of respect for those most affected by this news.
Many feel that it is simply not appropriate to celebrate the confederation of a country whose darkest evils have come to light so recently.
Many others, however, have rejected these calls for a variety of reasons, including sentiments that doing so accomplishes nothing, fails to recognize positive aspects of our history or simply that it is not the best path forward.
Whatever the reason for disagreement, Canadians are divided, and division is never the answer.
As such, I propose the following: make this Canada Day about our Indigenous history.
This year, instead of celebrating our confederation, let us observe and celebrate the cultures, traditions, beliefs, values, cuisine, languages and festivities that were all once attempted to be erased.
Let’s also spread awareness of issues affecting Indigenous communities.
Let us do the opposite of what was once attempted by the residential schools, and let Indigenous cultures flourish in the spotlight.
This way, it is more profound than just a simple holiday, but a celebration of good triumphing over evil, and the failure to erase innocent people.